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Steppin' Up Steppin Down
Week 12


Steppin' Up

Jeff Garcia, PHI: With Donovan McNabb suffering a torn ACL in last week's game against the Titans, Jeff Garcia is now taking over for the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the game early in the second quarter, Garcia completed 26 of his 48 attempts for 189 yards, including 1 touchdown pass. While Garcia is no longer the same caliber of player that went to three consecutive Pro-Bowls with the 49ers, he is familiar with the Eagles system. The eight-year vet won't be able to duplicate the production McNabb has provided, but he could be worth owning in larger leagues. Playing in Andy Reid's pass-first offense with Brian Westbrook, Donte' Stallworth, Reggie Brown and L.J. Smith as viable options in the passing game, it's possible he could average 200 yards with a touchdown or two over the remainder of the season.

Vince Young, TEN: Vince Young hasn't been the most efficient quarterback in the league since taking over as Tennessee's starter in week four, but his scrambling ability has made him a worthwhile addition in fantasy leagues this year. He has only completed 45.9% of his passes this season and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns to date, but his 3 rushing touchdowns and 226 yards on the ground has kept his fantasy production at a level worthy of a back-up QB in most leagues. It isn't recommended that you rely on the rookie QB as a starter, but consider adding him if you can afford the roster space.

Steppin' Down

Marc Bulger, STL: Following a hot streak in which Bulger produced five 300-yard outings and threw 12 touchdown passes within a 6-game span, the Rams signal caller has cooled off quite bit in recent weeks. Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace has been injured for part or all of the past two games and Bulger has thrown 2 interceptions with no touchdowns. In addition, he has averaged a subpar 178.5 yards per outing. The triceps injury that landed Orlando Pace on the IR could have a significant impact on Bulger's production the rest of the season. Without one of the game's best left tackles protecting his blind side, it's unlikely Bulger will be able to produce at the same level he had over the first half of the season.

Running Backs

Steppin' Up

DeAngelo Williams, CAR: A hyperextended left elbow suffered by Carolina Panthers starting tailback DeShaun Foster in the second quarter of last week's game against the Rams, allowed DeAngelo Williams to see his most extensive action of the season. The first round pick in this year's draft finished the game with 20 carries for 114 yards. After missing 4 weeks of action earlier in the year with a sprained ankle, Williams is now averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 53 attempts for 272 yards. When given the opportunity, Williams has produced quite well for Carolina this season and may be ready to take over a more extensive role as the Panthers make their push towards the playoffs. Foster's elbow injury may limit him in this week's game against the Redskins, so consider starting Williams as a #2 RB if you own him. If he begins getting nearly 15 carries a game, he could be a productive #2 type RB the rest of the season as well.

Thomas Jones, CHI: Following a sluggish start to the season, Thomas Jones has picked up his play as of late. In Chicago's last 4 games, the former 1st round pick has gone over the 100-yard mark in 3 of them. He's also scored 2 of his 4 touchdowns on the year during that same span and averaged 24 carries a game. While it was thought Cedric Benson may eat into Jones' carries as the year progressed, his strong play as of late should put to rest any thoughts of him giving way to Benson late in the season. He may not perform at quite the same level in coming weeks against the Patriots and Vikings (the two top ranked defenses against the run this year), but should find success during the fantasy playoffs going against the Rams, Buccaneers and Lions.

Steppin' Down

Shaun Alexander, SEA: Alexander made his much anticipated return to the field last week against the 49ers. Unfortunately for Seattle and fantasy owners alike, his performance was less than stellar. Alexander finished the afternoon with 17 carries for 37 yards. In his 3 games prior to the foot injury that sidelined him for 7 weeks, Alexander had already been off to a disappointing start. Counting last week's game, Alexander has now carried the ball 82 times for 224 yards--less than 3.0 yards per carry. With All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson no longer blocking for him up front and the cracked bone in Alexander's foot that still has not completely healed, the Seattle star back may be reduced to performing like a #2 RB in fantasy leagues this season. Not quite what fantasy owners anticipated when they invested a top 3 pick on him during their draft this year.

Wide Receivers

Steppin' Up

Mark Clayton, BAL: Clayton had already been having a fairly productive season this year, but he's been particularly impressive over the last three weeks. During that span the second year wide-out has reeled in 20 receptions for 287 yards, including 1 touchdown reception. Since the third week of the season, Clayton has averaged just over 5 receptions per game. While his yards per reception hasn't been overwhelming, his performance in the last 3 games has raised that average from a mark of 11.7 YPR to what is now 12.8 YPR. If that trend continues, Clayton should make for a very reliable #3 WR in fantasy leagues the remainder of the season.

Mark Bradley, CHI: Mark Bradley had been sidelined since the third week of the season with a high ankle sprain before returning to action in Week 10 against the New York Giants. Filling in for an injured Bernard Berrian that week, Bradley recorded 4 receptions for 79 yards and 1 touchdown. The following week with Berrian limited due to a rib injury he suffered in Week 9, Bradley had a near duplicate performance, this time posting 4 receptions for 80 yards and another touchdown. Once Berrian returns to the line-up full time it will be interesting to see how Bradley factors into the equation, but at the moment he is worth adding as a 4th or 5th receiver. Keep an eye on his production as he could be used as a #3 WR if Grossman continues targeting him downfield.

Steppin' Down

Keenan McCardell, SD: While nobody was expecting McCardell to produce like some of the higher-ranked wide receivers this year, his production is on pace to be his worst season since 2002. Of course that isn't taking into account his holdout-shortened season of 2004. Since being traded to the San Diego Chargers during that 2004 season, McCardell has averaged 4.4receptions and 56.9 yards per game. He was also a factor in the red zone last year, hauling in 9 touchdown receptions. This season however, McCardell has yet to reach the end zone and his averages have dropped to just 3 receptions and 37 yards per game. Once one of the best #2/3 WR's drafted in fantasy leagues, it appears McCardell's best days are clearly behind him and he is barely worth holding onto in leagues this year.